DETROIT — Actress and activist Rose McGowan gave a brief but blistering critique of Hollywood's treatment and portrayal of women during a panel on sexual assault Friday at the Opening Day of the Women's Convention here.
McGowan has been a leading voice against sexual harassment in the industry, tweeting earlier this month that she was raped by a man with the initials “HW,” who she later confirmed was film producer Harvey Weinstein.
She gave examples of how sexual harassment is embedded within the industry and can be seen in writing tropes and cavalier jokes about women's bodies. She said she has offered to give talks to the Writers Guild of America about harmful portrayals.
“Writers in Hollywood use rape as a plot device. They can’t imagine a woman getting strong otherwise,” she said to cheers in the packed crowd.
During a panel called “Fighting for Survivors of Sexual Assault in the Age of Betsy DeVos,” panelists discussed sexual assault on college campuses and what they say are the dangers of the secretary of education’s reversal of Obama-era sexual assault guidelines for college campuses. They shared experiences of being sexually assaulted on campus and conveyed the importance of Title IX, a federal anti-discrimination law.
“In regards to Hollywood, we have no Title IX,” McGowan said. “There's nothing.”
McGowan and actress Amber Tamblyn talked about the importance of social media in discussions of sexual assault and violence.
“The small thing that has happened, at least with Harvey Weinstein, is that the linchpin has been pulled from the grenade, and now we are about to see the grenade,” Tamblyn said. “I'm proud to be a part of that.”
Tamblyn is also active in the effort to combat sexual harassment and assault. She has said actor James Woods offered to take her to Las Vegas when she was 16; Woods has denied the allegation.
McGowan did not comment on Weinstein but said she has had “monsters” after her.
“I've had monsters after me for years and years trying to eradicate me from this planet,” she said. “And I will not go.”
Earlier in the day, McGowan delivered the opening remarks at the convention in her first public speech since saying Weinstein raped her.
“The triggering has been insane — the monster’s face everywhere, my nightmare,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “I have been silenced for 20 years. I have been slut-shamed, I have been harassed, I have been maligned, and you know what? I am just like you. What happened to me behind the scenes happens to all of us in this society. It cannot stand and will not stand.”
Weinstein has apologized for his behavior with women but has denied accusations of rape.
McGowan has galvanized supporters online, urging them to speak out against harassment using the hashtag #RoseArmy. At the convention, she handed out pins and bandannas that said #RoseArmy.